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Virtual Reality

 

Overview

Virtual reality can transport you into a world of computer-generated sights, sounds, and tactile (touch) sensations. The more your senses are fooled, the more you believe the experience is real . If you want to enter a virtual reality world, you can choose a couple different approaches. In one, you would go into a booth containing a computer monitor. The booth might represent a cockpit and the monitor a windshield. With the keyboard or joystick, you change the three-dimensional perspective of what you see on the screen-and take the airplane you're piloting into a rapid nosedive or a steep climb. Another, more expensive approach to virtual reality involves "the helmet and gloves." When you place one of these helmets on your head, your head movements allow you to see and hear the virtual world. The gloves can replace real touch with virtual touch. In this approach, two televisions cameras (or computer-graphic images) generate the virtual world. One camera or image is placed in front of each of your eyes, slightly offset in perspective . This creates the illusion of depth of view, or "stereoscopic vision." As your head turns to view different objects, a computer adjusts both the scene's perspective and associated sounds (coming through the headphones) to convince you that you are moving through the environment. As your gloved hand touches a surface in the virtual world, sensors in the glove tell the computer where the hand is in space. With some gloves, the computer can send signals back to you through pressure vibrations to indicate when you've touched an object in the virtual world. Virtual reality is more than just entertainment. For people with disabilities, it offers a way to interact with other people and to enter an artificial universe created by computer imaging, bypassing any physical limitations they may have. In industry, workers can draw upon this technology to design parts without expensive physical mock-ups , conduct chemistry experiments without risk, and learn how to operate new equipment with little loss in productivity.

Activity

You will create a virtual reality with simple household materials and show your audience the amazing image of a candle burning underwater. Materials
  • two identical birthday candles
  • one piece of window glass, any size larger than the candles. Tape around the sides with masking tape.
  • supports (such as books) that will firmly hold the glass upright
  • modeling clay to hold the candles upright
  • matches
  • clear water glass taller than the candles
  1. Use a couple of books to support the glass upright. (Always use care when handling glass!)
  2. Place the candles in modeling clay equal distances from the glass, one in the front and one behind the glass. You can use the reflection of the front candle to position the back candle.
  3. Light the front candle. When you look through the glass, the back candle looks at though it is lit. Part of the light from the flame on the front candle is reflected off the glass back to your eye.
  4. Now place the back candle in the water glass. Again, adjust the equipment so that the candle flame appears to be in the glass when viewed from the front.
  5. Invite a friend to view from the front as you fill the water glass to a level above the candle flame. Questions

Resources

  • Dede, C.J. (1992, May) The future of multimedia: Bridging to virtual worlds. Educational Technology, pp. 54-60.
  • Ferrington, G., & Loge, K. (1992, Apr) Virtual reality: A new learning environment. Computing Teacher, pp. 16-19.
  • Hamilton, J.O. (1992, Oct 5) Going where no minds have gone before. Business Week, p. 104.
  • Hamilton, J.O., et al. (1992, Oct 5) Virtual reality: How a computer-generated world could change the real world. Business Week, pp. 96-105.
  • Helsel, S. (1992, May) Virtual reality and education. Educational Technology, pp. 38-42.
  • Wilson, D.L. (1992, Apr 22) Researchers hope to lead students into virtual reality. The Chronicle of Higher Education, pp. A 23-25.